We like to poke fun at the mid-2000s gastropub dining scene, partially because its offerings feel so fresh in our minds, yet so far from current trends. Just as sun-dried tomatoes are a great shorthand for ’90s-era cuisine, the mid-aughts brought us things like short rib flatbread pizzas and baconified everything. But it was also the era of the big honking dinner burger, for which diners were always given a choice of three to five different bun options. White? Wheat? Pretzel? Potato? Ciabatta? I miss that kind of selection. And it sounds like Burger King is kinda, sorta bringing it back.
Starting September 12, Burger King will debut a new brioche bun coated in everything bagel seasoning, which can be subbed in for a normal bun when you order a Whopper, Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich (replacement for the Ch’King), or Breakfast Sandwich. Only customers in Huntsville, Alabama and Albuquerque, New Mexico will be able to try them for now, but as with any test run, early success could mean the rest of us get to taste it for ourselves soon after.
Doesn’t it feel like it’s been a while since you were offered a little menu of bun choices from which to select? The reason might have to do with the rise of the crispy smash burger and the fact that a soft, squishy bun is really the only thing that pairs structurally with the salty, lacy-edged style popularized by Shake Shack. But this new BK product appears to be the best of both worlds, combining the superior seasoning of a bagel with the pillowy crumb of brioche.
The biggest hurdle I anticipate for this menu item is keeping salt levels at bay. Fast food is a sodium-rich landscape at the best of times, and when you add a crust of everything seasoning on top—a mixture consisting of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried garlic, dried onion, and salt—the added savory kick might send an already salty sandwich over the top. Then again, maybe this bun will meet the same fate as every airport everything bagel purchase I’ve ever made and lose 99% of its seasoning by the time I unsheath it from the takeout bag.
Burger King, Chicago hopes to be given an opportunity to try this salty, zingy menu innovation soon. All told, it’s a tiny tweak to the menu, but one that adds just a hint of customization that customers are always seeking.